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SAT Subject Tests Pointless?


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Are SAT subject tests pointless if you aren't planning to attend an Ivy League school?

 

 My son is not even planning on applying to an Ivy League and I don't see that Rensselaer or the State universities that he is looking at require it. We are still looking at for other Polytech type schools though but I'm thinking it may be unlikely that they will request Subject tests in which case it is a waste of time for him specifically.  He isn't a competitive person anyway and just wants to do his own thing in regards to making choices about stuff and not jumping through hoops but he is interested in finding others interested in similar stuff and working hard and working as a team so part of me would like him to find a school that has a pretty dedicated student body. This would not describe the place I attended and I do think it would be an advantage to have peers that were serious.  You can find them everywhere but at some places it's very difficult.   :)

 

 He did take the Chem test and probably didn't study for it near enough.  He did ok on his Chem test (720) but not for an ultra competitive school. He might do better on a physics test but that won't change where he applies to anyway. Besides he wants to take physics his Senior year so he can take it at the college as a calc. based course so he won't have even finished his class before he needs to start turning in college applications anyway. The only other ones I'm sure that engineering departments would care about is perhaps the Physics or Math 2. I guess he would be ready for Math 2 in time so that is an option though the curve on that is crazy.

 

For him specifically I'm thinking perhaps of advising him that it isn't really a big deal if he takes them. 

Am I missing something? Because I worry that he suddenly finds a school that does require it and he isn't ready. I hate to short change his options by giving him bad advice but it really does look like only super competitive colleges use them.

Edited by frogger
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A 720 on the Chemistry test is a great score!  There are some schools outside the Ivy League that recommend a student going into engineering submit the Math Level 2 Subject Test.  I would have your son take the Math level 2 as well - that test is the least painful of the subject tests, imo. 

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Some of the schools in the tier below Ivy want to see them. Some schools might not care for general admission, but require them for specific schools or programs within the school.

 

I think perhaps for some schools, it might make homeschool transcripts look stronger, providing verification of sorts, in addition to or instead of AP or DE.

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My three guys never needed any.  To be sure, esp with middle son as he was looking at higher level schools, I e-mailed admissions and asked giving them our situation.  Only one school (Emory) said yes.  He opted to nix Emory from the list instead.  Considering how well he did in college, it really was their loss, not his.  ;)

 

NOTE:  My guy had a couple of AP 5s, a couple of DE As including one that was a sophomore level course, and a pretty darn high ACT score so YMMV.

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A 720 on the Chemistry test is a great score!

:iagree: My ds scored 500.  :eek:  He did not study and took Chem at CC which apparently doesn't teach to the SAT Chem test.

 

 Only one school (Emory) said yes. 

Ds took the SAT subject tests because Emory required them of homeschoolers.  Didn't matter that ds had 69 CC credits with a 4.0.  :banghead: Alas, Emory is not an engineering school and ds never did apply.  SAT subjects tests were a complete waste of time and money for us.

Edited by Sue in St Pete
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Some of the schools in the tier below Ivy want to see them. Some schools might not care for general admission, but require them for specific schools or programs within the school.

 

I think perhaps for some schools, it might make homeschool transcripts look stronger, providing verification of sorts, in addition to or instead of AP or DE.

 

One of our state universities requires a Math SAT Subject test score if you are a homeschooler, so that isn't even tied in to selectivity or major.  Ds took Lit and Biology after he completed the AP courses, so there really wasn't a lot of preparation other than understanding how the tests are set up.

 

Unless test taking is painful for your student, a few SAT Subject exams in your back pocket gives you a bit more flexibility for admissions.

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I have read that anything above a 700 is a good score on a subject test.  The percentiles are meaningless--if you want to know how your student ranks as compared with the larger pool of SAT test takers (and, by extension, other students applying to college), look at the percentile rank that 720 corresponds to on the regular SAT--it is in the high 90s.  The subject test scale is supposed to correspond to roughly the same level of achievement as the regular SAT scale.

 

My son took the physics subject test and even though the schools he applied to didn't require it, I felt his score (700) corroborated  the A he got in his homeschool physics course.  If he had taken physics at a real school, I wouldn't have had him take the subject test (he applied to schools like RPI).

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I have read that anything above a 700 is a good score on a subject test. The percentiles are meaningless--if you want to know how your student ranks as compared with the larger pool of SAT test takers (and, by extension, other students applying to college), look at the percentile rank that 720 corresponds to on the regular SAT--it is in the high 90s. The subject test scale is supposed to correspond to roughly the same level of achievement as the regular SAT scale.

 

My son took the physics subject test and even though the schools he applied to didn't require it, I felt his score (700) corroborated the A he got in his homeschool physics course. If he had taken physics at a real school, I wouldn't have had him take the subject test (he applied to schools like RPI).

Fwiw, At some point in my ACT, SAT, AP journey with my dc's I came to the conclusion that for SAT Subject exams a 700 plus score is an A. 600's are B's with 500's being C's. A 720 is a great score! :)

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So it could be useless but it may be important.   :001_smile: I guess the " just in case" wins out. 

 

From everything I looked at it, it seemed mostly super selective schools were looking at it and the average score they accepted was really high anyway so it is interesting to know these other details. 

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:iagree: My ds scored 500. :eek: He did not study and took Chem at CC which apparently doesn't teach to the SAT Chem test.

 

Ds took the SAT subject tests because Emory required them of homeschoolers. Didn't matter that ds had 69 CC credits with a 4.0. :banghead: Alas, Emory is not an engineering school and ds never did apply. SAT subjects tests were a complete waste of time and money for us.

It is frustrating that so much is tied to tests. We have never focused on tests until now looking at colleges because well, hoops. I hope he found a school he is happy with.

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Some schools outside of elite schools do require them so look at the admission requirements - sometimes they are "required" for homeschoolers, but not everyone else. Sometimes if kids apply to these schools they are admitted and given big scholarships even if they have never taken SAT subject tests.

 

I think it is good to have some basic outside verification of your academics - this might be as simple as an ACT score. 

 

I did not do them with my oldest and won't with my second unless he's looking at somewhere that requires them - we'll have that discussion more later this summer and will have another year to take them. I have a hard time imagining my younger kids needing them for where they are likely to apply.

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The subject tests are available anywhere the SAT is available, which is not true for AP.

 

Subject tests are pointless except at highly selective schools. More and more institutions are deciding they don't need them, sort of like there are more test optional schools for the regular SAT.

 

Here is a place to see which schools currently require them:

 

http://www.compassprep.com/subject-test-requirements-and-recommendations/

 

But, as homeschoolers, we do need to double-check for the oddball school that still requires more tests from homeschooled students than from general applicants. (I'm looking at you, Northwestern!)

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I haven't read the replies.  Be very careful about assuming that any "requirements" or recommendations are the only requirements for homeschoolers.  There were two schools that dd applied to where subject tests were necessary for homeschooled applicants but not standard applicants.

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I haven't read the replies.  Be very careful about assuming that any "requirements" or recommendations are the only requirements for homeschoolers.  There were two schools that dd applied to where subject tests were necessary for homeschooled applicants but not standard applicants.

 

May I ask which schools? And did they just require 2?

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May I ask which schools? And did they just require 2?

 

I can give you two examples.

 

Arizona State University requires homeschoolers to demonstrate that they took a multiple lab sciences.  There is a lab form to fill our for each class, in which the student is supposed to discribe a representative lab from the course.  HOWEVER, they will also take alternate demonstration, such as a dual enrollment course, an SAT subject test, or the science section of the ACT.  So a student could use science Subject tests to not have to write the lab description.  [NB: Don't let the lab explanation requirement scare you away from ASU.  They were quite friendly when I talked to them about it, and seemed to be looking for reasons to accept what was offered them.  They weren't trying to be mean to homeschoolers.]

 

University of Hawaii requires homeschoolers to provide ONE of the following:

-GED scores

-Subject Test scores, minimum of 3, including math

-ACT scores

[NB: Again, don't let this scare you off from applying.  They are not looking for 700s, but for benchmark scores around 500 for Subject Tests and 22 or higher for ACT.  UH is unusual in that they will accept all students who apply who meet the required minimums.  So they'd use the Subject Test scores, but it isn't competitive.]

 

 

Schools DSS applied to or considered that required or used Subject Tests if they were given:

Georgetown

Stanford

Rice

University of Virginia

Virginia Tech

Carnegie Mellon

George Mason (would use them for credit by exam for foreign language)

University of Texas Austin

University of Washington

Notre Dame

Boston College

University of Chicago

University of Michigan

 

A lot of these are quite selective, but not all.  Many welcomed subject tests as one way for a homeschooler to demonstrate proficiency in academics.  Some would use them for placement or credit.

 

BTW, in my reading, if a very selective school says that something is recommended, it is close to required for most applicants.  If something is optional, it is probably also a very, very good idea to opt to provide that.  If the school isn't competitive, it may not matter.

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BTW, in my reading, if a very selective school says that something is recommended, it is close to required for most applicants. 

 

And this is where we differ.  I e-mailed admissions at schools middle son was interested in because a couple of them said Subject Tests were recommended or recommended for homeschoolers.  NONE of the schools that said they were recommended said they would need them from my lad with what he had to offer instead. They said they recommended them because way too many homeschoolers apply without much in outside support for homeschooled grades.  My guy's outside support of AP/DE/very strong ACT was just fine according to them.  He also got in to the schools I contacted that remained on his list (after more consideration of other factors) and got merit aid from each of them.

 

Emory said they were required for homeschoolers and stuck to it.

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And this is where we differ.  I e-mailed admissions at schools middle son was interested in because a couple of them said Subject Tests were recommended or recommended for homeschoolers.  NONE of the schools that said they were recommended said they would need them from my lad with what he had to offer instead. They said they recommended them because way too many homeschoolers apply without much in outside support for homeschooled grades.  My guy's outside support of AP/DE/very strong ACT was just fine according to them.  He also got in to the schools I contacted that remained on his list (after more consideration of other factors) and got merit aid from each of them.

 

Emory said they were required for homeschoolers and stuck to it.

 

How many AP scores and DE grades did your son have when he applied? 

 

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How many AP scores and DE grades did your son have when he applied? 

 

 

Only two each.  Psych and Stats for AP.  Microbio (the 200 level course) and Public Speaking for DE.  His DE profs wrote his recommendation letters.  His ACT was also Top 1% - not perfect, but close to it.

 

We weren't all that big on testing.  No regrets.  We're quite satisfied with how things turned out.  

 

If one wants a school where they are required, then one must take them.  If not, contact the school with the specifics of the student and see what admissions recommends.  We've always found them to be open with their thoughts.  Of course, if any weren't, we'd have cut them from the list too.  Only Emory got cut over SAT subject tests.

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May I ask which schools? And did they just require 2?

 

 

When dd first starting planning to apply Emory, Duke, Davidson, and Washington and Lee all required them for homeschoolers.   She decided not to apply to W&L, but I have heard that they have changed their stance to allow AP exams in lieu. I haven't checked into this at all.  Davidson still requires 3-5.  I believe that Duke now highly recommends them but will consider AP exam scores as well?  With one school I called and asked if AP scores would be sufficient and they plain out told me no, it would not.  I believe that was either Emory or Davidson but I can't remember now.

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I don't know whether they are pointless or not.  My bio kids test well and easily, and it is a simple way to validate a home school transcript and course work.  If it were difficult and anxiety-producing, I would think twice.  DD applied with them along with AP scores and was offered top merit scholarships everywhere she applied.  In every single competitive interview she had (also during high school interviews), they never asked one question about her transcript nor did they ask for an explanation of any course work she completed.  Other home school friends (w/o all of the scores) have been asked a lot of questions about their transcripts and course work during interviews, presumably to validate what they had done.  It's purely correlative, so maybe there is something to it and maybe there isn't. Who knows? 

 

 

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Why do only some universities require the subject tests?  Why would you take a subject test vs an AP exam?  The AP exams are harder, right?  

 

The answer to that question depends on the subject and on the student.  SAT subject tests are usually minutiae type questions, so for global, big picture people, they may be harder than AP exams.  My biological kids are outstanding writers, so the AP essay exams which are difficult for many students are much easier than the m/c type questions over minutiae that comprise subject tests. That's also why students are encouraged to take subject tests as soon as the course is over.

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And this is where we differ. I e-mailed admissions at schools middle son was interested in because a couple of them said Subject Tests were recommended or recommended for homeschoolers. NONE of the schools that said they were recommended said they would need them from my lad with what he had to offer instead. They said they recommended them because way too many homeschoolers apply without much in outside support for homeschooled grades. My guy's outside support of AP/DE/very strong ACT was just fine according to them. He also got in to the schools I contacted that remained on his list (after more consideration of other factors) and got merit aid from each of them.

 

Emory said they were required for homeschoolers and stuck to it.

Actually I don't disagree with what you are saying. You checked and had something else to paint the picture of academic experience and college readiness.

 

ETA: My comment was probably too general.

 

What I was thinking of with the recommended = required comment more that if students are applying to very selective schools, they need to think of what they are submitting relative to other applicants.  If the school recommends that students arrange an interview and one student never goes through the process, but others do, it may be weighed against the non-interviewing student.  (I'm making generalizations about ease of interview being equal between the students, not that one didn't because he lives overseas or in an area with no alumni network.)  Another example might be if the college application has optional writing supplements or essays.  I'm thinking here of recommendations made to all interested students, not just homeschoolers.

 

In the cases you mentioned, they were recommended, but your kid had something else that could fill a similar role of being an outside evaluation with a quantifiable measurement attached.  What I think would be unwise would be to see that subject test scores are recommended and think that this means that the school doesn't really care if there is ANY outside quantification of the academic record.  A student who submitted a transcript that was all home taught and evaluated courses, with only recommendations written by family members, may be viewed with some skepticism.  Not because the school hates homeschoolers, but because many student records are viewed with some skepticism.  

 

There is a myth in some corners of the homeschool world that homeschooling itself is so superior that it is a golden ticket to entrance at very selective colleges with full ride scholarships.  (Hyperbole is intentional.)  I think that it is true that most colleges recognize that some of the strong applicants each year will be homeschoolers.  That is because some homeschoolers have very strong applications.  I am yearly blown away by what some people on this board post.  That doesn't necessarily mean that every homeschooler will get a red carpet welcome at Harvard.  

 

I think that an application from a homeschooler comes with certain asterisks to a college admissions officer.  

 

There isn't a relative class rank.  My kids are 1 of 1.  That conveys less meaning than a rank of 3 of 400 or 12 of 1000 might.

 

Grades for home based courses are provided by the parent.  This isn't to say that parents aren't honest graders for courses of rigor.  It's saying that there is less of a conflict of interest when an unrelated teacher grades a class full of students.  

 

Quality of the courses is less easily evaluated.  A public school that has to follow state guidelines has a scope and sequence that is more expected.  A student from Richmond and a student from Roanoke who both took Algebra and passed the state end of course exam would be expected to have a similar base understanding of algebra.  Algebra from a homeschool student could mean a broad spectrum of experiences, depths and results.

 

Recommendations written by a parent may not carry the same weight as one written by a non-family member who has taught hundreds of students over several years.

 

A subject test score (or an AP score, or a DE grade, or a grade from an outside provider, or other forms of outside evaluation like robotics or language competitions or Science Olympiad) can be something for an admissions officer to look at and decide that they aren't just taking the parents' word that a kid is all that they claim.  Some outside evaluations give an admissions officer a reason to say yes.

 

 

FWIW, I don't want anyone to think that what I've written means I think that home-based homeschooling is of lower quality or rigor than what you get from an outside provider.  My kids did courses I created, supervised and graded in a number of areas.  They also had grades and scores from outside evaluations in some areas.  Sometimes there was an overlap, like the AP scores for courses I'd designed.  Taken together I think a pretty decent picture was presented for admissions to make decisions on.  I think we do need to see that a good picture of out student is painted.  That doesn't mean all the pictures have to look alike, or that we need to use all the same brushes, paint and techniques.  

Edited by Sebastian (a lady)
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I don't know whether they are pointless or not.  My bio kids test well and easily, and it is a simple way to validate a home school transcript and course work.  If it were difficult and anxiety-producing, I would think twice.  DD applied with them along with AP scores and was offered top merit scholarships everywhere she applied.  In every single competitive interview she had (also during high school interviews), they never asked one question about her transcript nor did they ask for an explanation of any course work she completed.  Other home school friends (w/o all of the scores) have been asked a lot of questions about their transcripts and course work during interviews, presumably to validate what they had done.  It's purely correlative, so maybe there is something to it and maybe there isn't. Who knows? 

 

I do interviews for my alma mater.  I often get assigned students who homeschooled.  I will sometimes ask then to tell me a little about their homeschooling, because it allows me to include some information on what they have done, in context of what is possible where we live (ex. no public high school sports participation or partial enrollment) when I write up the interview.

 

When I interview someone usually all I have from the school is their test scores and school attended.  I don't get any of their application documents.  Some bring a resume or transcript to the interview.  I find it helpful, because it gives us something for the initial questions, but it is certainly not a requirement.

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Why do only some universities require the subject tests?  Why would you take a subject test vs an AP exam?  The AP exams are harder, right?  

 

What I think the logic behind the requirement is that it is a content specific test that is set at a high school level of knowledge and understanding and can be scheduled in the same way that the regular SAT is scheduled.  It allows the college to do more apples to apples comparisons.   The Subject Tests have pretty wide availability on the SAT test dates.  Some subjects are only offered occasionally (Latin, modern languages), but others are on every test date (Literature, US History, Math 1, Math 2, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, seem to be on every sitting.  French and Spanish are on every sitting, however with listening is available only on one test date.)

 

An AP test is (usually) harder because it tests college level material, but is also dependent on a school offering the exam, which they usually only do if they also offer the AP course.  

 

FWIW, my kids did not have all 700+ scores on their subject tests.  Is this what kept my STEM kid from being accepted at Carnegie Mellon?  Hard to say.  He also had SAT math scores that were high, but average for CMU.  He didn't arrange in interview.  He didn't interact with the university in a way that indicated interest (IIRC, they considered that).  His scores and overall application were enough for acceptance at other good schools, including Purdue into computer science.

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BTW, the SAT score reports that I've seen online and that my kids print from their accounts have both SAT reasoning test scores and SAT Subject Test scores on the same report.

 

See page 12-13 here.  https://collegereadiness.collegeboard.org/pdf/understanding-sat-scores-2016.pdf

 

I think schools do get both SAT and SAT Subject Test scores when you send a score report.  I remember getting this impression from the score report ordering page.  They probably get a database input rather than these full page reports.  

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I found this at the College Board site, which might help people evaluate scores.

 

https://collegereadiness.collegeboard.org/sat-subject-tests/scores/understanding-scores

 

Score Range

Tests can’t measure exactly what you know, and many factors can affect your score. After all, no two days are the same, and if you were to take the test three times in a week or once a week for a month, your scores would vary.

That’s why it’s helpful to think of each score as a range that extends from a few points below to a few points above the score earned. Score ranges show how much your score might change with repeated testing, assuming that your skill level remains the same.

Usually, your scores fall in a range of roughly 30 – 40 points above or below your true ability. Colleges know this, and they receive the score ranges along with your scores to consider that single snapshot in context.

Because score ranges are the best representation of your abilities, we say that there must be a difference of at least 60 points between your score and another student’s score to be able to say that one of you performed better than the other.

Percentile Ranks

Percentile ranks compare your scores to those of other students who took the test. Say, for example, your Biology Test score is 500. If the percentile rank for 500 is 47, then this means you did better than 47 percent of all students who took this test.

Because different groups of students take different Subject Tests, you can’t compare a Biology Test percentile with a Literature Test percentile, for example.

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Actually I don't disagree with what you are saying. You checked and had something else to paint the picture of academic experience and college readiness.

 

ETA: My comment was probably too general.

 

What I was thinking of with the recommended = required comment more that if students are applying to very selective schools, they need to think of what they are submitting relative to other applicants.  If the school recommends that students arrange an interview and one student never goes through the process, but others do, it may be weighed against the non-interviewing student.  (I'm making generalizations about ease of interview being equal between the students, not that one didn't because he lives overseas or in an area with no alumni network.)  Another example might be if the college application has optional writing supplements or essays.  I'm thinking here of recommendations made to all interested students, not just homeschoolers.

 

In the cases you mentioned, they were recommended, but your kid had something else that could fill a similar role of being an outside evaluation with a quantifiable measurement attached.  What I think would be unwise would be to see that subject test scores are recommended and think that this means that the school doesn't really care if there is ANY outside quantification of the academic record.  A student who submitted a transcript that was all home taught and evaluated courses, with only recommendations written by family members, may be viewed with some skepticism.  Not because the school hates homeschoolers, but because many student records are viewed with some skepticism.  

 

There is a myth in some corners of the homeschool world that homeschooling itself is so superior that it is a golden ticket to entrance at very selective colleges with full ride scholarships.  (Hyperbole is intentional.)  I think that it is true that most colleges recognize that some of the strong applicants each year will be homeschoolers.  That is because some homeschoolers have very strong applications.  I am yearly blown away by what some people on this board post.  That doesn't necessarily mean that every homeschooler will get a red carpet welcome at Harvard.  

 

I think that an application from a homeschooler comes with certain asterisks to a college admissions officer.  

 

There isn't a relative class rank.  My kids are 1 of 1.  That conveys less meaning than a rank of 3 of 400 or 12 of 1000 might.

 

Grades for home based courses are provided by the parent.  This isn't to say that parents aren't honest graders for courses of rigor.  It's saying that there is less of a conflict of interest when an unrelated teacher grades a class full of students.  

 

Quality of the courses is less easily evaluated.  A public school that has to follow state guidelines has a scope and sequence that is more expected.  A student from Richmond and a student from Roanoke who both took Algebra and passed the state end of course exam would be expected to have a similar base understanding of algebra.  Algebra from a homeschool student could mean a broad spectrum of experiences, depths and results.

 

Recommendations written by a parent may not carry the same weight as one written by a non-family member who has taught hundreds of students over several years.

 

A subject test score (or an AP score, or a DE grade, or a grade from an outside provider, or other forms of outside evaluation like robotics or language competitions or Science Olympiad) can be something for an admissions officer to look at and decide that they aren't just taking the parents' word that a kid is all that they claim.  Some outside evaluations give an admissions officer a reason to say yes.

 

 

FWIW, I don't want anyone to think that what I've written means I think that home-based homeschooling is of lower quality or rigor than what you get from an outside provider.  My kids did courses I created, supervised and graded in a number of areas.  They also had grades and scores from outside evaluations in some areas.  Sometimes there was an overlap, like the AP scores for courses I'd designed.  Taken together I think a pretty decent picture was presented for admissions to make decisions on.  I think we do need to see that a good picture of out student is painted.  That doesn't mean all the pictures have to look alike, or that we need to use all the same brushes, paint and techniques.  

 

I agree totally with your post.  What I heard (granted, this was 5+ years ago) from admissions is that they like homeschoolers to help with their diversity, but most they get applying don't actually give them enough info to go on with their application.  They want to see "outside the house" success - DE can do this as can extra curriculars.  They want to see some baseline of test scores (ACT is preferred above SAT due to its wider variety, but SAT with subject tests can also suffice, and of course, AP works too - these compare nationally unlike DE).  What they told me they don't need (even from ps students) are oodles of tests.  They know that a student who tests well will test well on pretty much anything they take.  It's their nature. (Their words, not mine)  They were quite happy with what we had to offer, esp since later they also put on their ECs.  They want to see active homeschoolers who aren't just home studying (again, their words, not mine).

 

We never checked Ivy level as my guy didn't want to go there.  The school he attended (U Roc) is Top 30 though - and he got a terrific package from them overall (merit and need-based) making them cheaper than his other options so I think they were satisfied with his application.  He's since graduated Summa Cum Laude with wonderful experiences along the way and University-wide awards for academics and residential life so I think he's represented homeschoolers quite well.  They shouldn't be upset with their decision.  He's going to make a great alumni.  As I stated before with Emory's insistence on subject tests - their loss, not my guy's.

 

I often wonder why homeschoolers put so much into so many tests, but then again some ps students do too.  We all can do what we want.  I'll admit I breathed a sigh of relief when middle son's acceptances and merit aid offers, etc, came in... but so do many of us parents regardless of which way we opted to go.

Edited by creekland
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Great discussion on this topic by above posters! :)

 

Few schools *require* SAT Subject tests -- those that do are mostly on the East Coast. Some of those require it of all in-coming students, and a few more schools have it as a special extra requirement for homeschool students. Here's the list from Compass Education Group: SAT Subject Test Requirements and Recommendations.

 

The point or benefit of SAT Subject Tests:

- verification of *high school* level work

- in a few cases, possible awarding of college credit for high test score

- for homeschoolers: confirmation of parent-awarded grades

 

AP tests, CLEP tests, and dual enrollment:

- verify not just high school level work, but *advanced (college)* level work

- much more likely to provide college credit

- confirm homeschool grades

 

So unless your student is considering applying to one of the schools on the above linked schools, no, you probably don't need to take any SAT Subject tests, and can instead focus on whether or not AP, CLEP, or dual enrollment might serve your student.

 

Note: if you do go with SAT Subject tests, colleges are looking for test scores in a variety of subjects -- so one each in Science, Math, and English, for example. Stacking all the scores in the Science areas can show that the student is strong in that area, but can leave the college wondering how the student does in other areas.

Edited by Lori D.
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When we were going through the recruiting process, one of the schools that my son was considering had recently revised its SATII policy from "required" to "recommended."  The coach told him that the school only did this because students in the underserved areas of the country did not always know that the SAT IIs existed, and therefore didn't have the necessary tests to even apply.  The coach said that the school still expected to see scores from applicants that did not fit this demographic and not having them would place those students at a big disadvantage. 

Edited by snowbeltmom
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When we were going through the recruiting process, one of the schools that my son was considering had recently revised its SATII policy from "required" to "recommended."  The coach told him that the school only did this because students in the underserved areas of the country did not always know that the SAT IIs existed, and therefore didn't have the necessary tests to even apply.  The coach said that the school still expected to see scores from applicants that did not fit this demographic and not having them would place those students at a big disadvantage. 

 

Because we cast such a wide net and schools vary widely, I just have my DC take them.  It is relatively easy for them to take the tests and is simply not worth the potential disadvantage to them if they didn't take the tests.

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Note: if you do go with SAT Subject tests, colleges are looking for test scores in a variety of subjects -- so one each in Science, Math, and English, for example. Stacking all the scores in the Science areas can show that the student is strong in that area, but can leave the college wondering how the student does in other areas.

This is a new thought to me. Since he isn't aiming for an Ivy this wouldn't apply though correct? The extra SAT II's are just to show his competency for an engineering department was what I was getting from the extra links. Especially since he was thinking of taking CLEP tests to get out of classes that weren't part of his major (history, government, economics) and hoping to dual enroll for calculus and maybe technical writing. These should show competency and perhaps get him credit at the tier of school he is looking at. Money is definitly an issue after all. I think the DE should show math and physics competency also though which is why I wasn't sure about the necessity of extra tests. If he could do good on an SAT II for literature it seems he should just do the prep for the literature CLEP?

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I agree totally with your post.  What I heard (granted, this was 5+ years ago) from admissions is that they like homeschoolers to help with their diversity, but most they get applying don't actually give them enough info to go on with their application.  They want to see "outside the house" success - DE can do this as can extra curriculars.  They want to see some baseline of test scores (ACT is preferred above SAT due to its wider variety, but SAT with subject tests can also suffice, and of course, AP works too - these compare nationally unlike DE).  What they told me they don't need (even from ps students) are oodles of tests.  They know that a student who tests well will test well on pretty much anything they take.  It's their nature. (Their words, not mine)  They were quite happy with what we had to offer, esp since later they also put on their ECs.  They want to see active homeschoolers who aren't just home studying (again, their words, not mine).

 

We never checked Ivy level as my guy didn't want to go there.  The school he attended (U Roc) is Top 30 though - and he got a terrific package from them overall (merit and need-based) making them cheaper than his other options so I think they were satisfied with his application.  He's since graduated Summa Cum Laude with wonderful experiences along the way and University-wide awards for academics and residential life so I think he's represented homeschoolers quite well.  They shouldn't be upset with their decision.  He's going to make a great alumni.  As I stated before with Emory's insistence on subject tests - their loss, not my guy's.

 

I often wonder why homeschoolers put so much into so many tests, but then again some ps students do too.  We all can do what we want.  I'll admit I breathed a sigh of relief when middle son's acceptances and merit aid offers, etc, came in... but so do many of us parents regardless of which way we opted to go.

 

Amen choir on the huge sigh of relief when acceptances came in.  Even after graduating one kid into college, I still had a nagging voice in my head that I didn't really know what I was doing.  But I also think you are right that many parents worry about the decisions they make and that their kids make in high school and with college apps.

 

When I list all the different tests my kids took, it does make a big list.  

Some were a spur to learning or a way of opening their eyes to what was out there in a subject.  Mythology Exam and Exploratory Latin Exam were in the first category, and AMC 8 and AMC 10 were in the second.

 

Some were a requirement or verification of coursework they were doing.  National Latin Exam and AP exams definitely fell into this category.  

 

Some were required for college applications or were a stepping stone for those required tests.  The SAT and ACT fell into this category.  My older kids did the PSAT every year of high school, because that was routine in the district we lived in when they started 9th grade.  All 9-11th graders took the PSAT if they were in attendance.  10th graders had their test paid for by the school.  9th and 11th could pay for an official report or just take the test and get their booklet, answers and an answer key back.  

 

We did a lot of AP courses because I felt that they were able to work on that level for those courses.  To be honest, APUSH and AP Eng Lit were tests based on years and years of talking about literature and history and didn't really represent sitting together doing history or lit every day.  I didn't feel competent to teach or even guide AP level science or math; they did those courses at a community college.  AP Latin was with an online provider (and I'm glad we did Latin with Lukeion, because I stink at teaching even a foreign language I know well).

 

It's a big list, but didn't feel like one as we were doing high school.  It definitely isn't the only route to homeschool, high school, or college success.  

 

ETA: I should add that there is also a personality factor.  I feel very comfortable with taking a list of course aims and learning objectives from College Board and making a syllabus.  I feel very comfortable reading past free response questions and scoring guidelines and seeing where my kids are up to snuff and where they need work.  I love literature and history and have a big home library to pull from.  So I was in my comfort zone working through the AP courses as a framework.  This definitely influenced our choices on how to do high school.

Edited by Sebastian (a lady)
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Great discussion on this topic by above posters! :)

 

Few schools *require* SAT Subject tests -- those that do are mostly on the East Coast. Some of those require it of all in-coming students, and a few more schools have it as a special extra requirement for homeschool students. Here's the list from Compass Education Group: SAT Subject Test Requirements and Recommendations.

 

 

 

This is a good list, but doesn't capture when Subject Tests are required, requrested, or recommended for homeschoolers.

 

When we were building our list of colleges and test requirements, I searched once with "<school name> admissions requirements subject test" and then a second time with "<school name> admissions homeschooler" as the search.  The results often took me to very different pages on the admissions websites.

Edited by Sebastian (a lady)
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BTW, there are fee waivers for the SAT, including SAT Subject Tests for students if their family meets specific eligibility requirements.  Waiver vouchers are issued by school guidance counselors, who are asked by College Board to also issue them to homeschool students who meet the eligibility.  

 

https://collegereadiness.collegeboard.org/sat/register/fees/fee-waivers

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My kids are doing SAT subject tests for primarily two reasons. One to satisfy any engineering school who would like Math 2 and a science subject test scores. Two to check the box for UC (California) a-g requirements for those subjects they don't want to do a year round class in.

 

I often wonder why homeschoolers put so much into so many tests, but then again some ps students do too.

It is a relatively painless way for my oldest to check off UC (California) a-g requirements. His physics subject test score already checked the box for a science and his math 2 subject test score checked the box for two years of math. He intend to check the history and biology box by taking and using subject tests scores.

 

ETA:

There are other ways to check off UC (California) a-g requirements. SAT subject tests just happen to be the cheapest and least time consuming for my kids. You could also take a UC a-g approved course or DE or take the AP exam and get the required scores to meet the requirements.

Edited by Arcadia
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That's also why students are encouraged to take subject tests as soon as the course is over.

 

My poor ds took them 1.5 years after he took one course and 3 years after the other.  He only had 1 month to study, so there was a LOT to relearn.  Just one of many side effects of changing course mid-stream in high school.  sigh.  

 

Ruth in NZ

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This is a good list, but doesn't capture when Subject Tests are required, requrested, or recommended for homeschoolers.

 

When we were building our list of colleges and test requirements, I searched once with "<school name> admissions requirements subject test" and then a second time with "<school name> admissions homeschooler" as the search.  The results often took me to very different pages on the admissions websites.

 

Agree! Always best to look at the policy of each individual school. :)

 

For a general starting point, try the Prep Scholar website's list, as it does include whether homeschoolers are required to provide SAT Subject Tests.

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My poor ds took them 1.5 years after he took one course and 3 years after the other.  He only had 1 month to study, so there was a LOT to relearn.  Just one of many side effects of changing course mid-stream in high school.  sigh.  

 

Ruth in NZ

 

It is so difficult to stay on top and manage everything that life requires. There is so much to relearn.  DD18 jokes with students she tutors that you really have to stay in the middle of all of it, or so much of the details eek out of your brain.. :) 

 

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My kids are doing SAT subject tests for primarily two reasons. One to satisfy any engineering school who would like Math 2 and a science subject test scores. Two to check the box for UC (California) a-g requirements for those subjects they don't want to do a year round class in.

 

It is a relatively painless way for my oldest to check off UC (California) a-g requirements. His physics subject test score already checked the box for a science and his math 2 subject test score checked the box for two years of math. He intend to check the history and biology box by taking and using subject tests scores.

 

True.  This can easily be a consideration many of the rest of us don't have to worry about since we're not aiming toward UCs or having to fulfill a-g requirements.  

 

We did a lot of AP courses because I felt that they were able to work on that level for those courses.  

 

My older two (the two who homeschooled high school) did AP level work.  I just didn't care to jump through the hoops to have the courses labeled that way and since we didn't want college credit for many of them, there was no reason to take the tests.  If middle son hadn't done AP level work, it would have been extremely tough for him to have remained competitive at his college because essentially everyone coming in has had that level for high school.  Kids coming from our "average" public high school often have trouble keeping up in selective colleges due to a not-so-good foundation in their high school classes.  Youngest son (my ps kid) found this out at his college too.  His work level/commitment had to step up a notch.  My homeschooled lads found the transition to college seamless.

 

Foundation counts.  Labels do not (except for enough to prove the foundation is there to an outsider looking in).

 

This is nothing new.  Hubby and I went to the same university back in the 80s.  I came from a terrific public high school (with one year at a terrific private high school).  He came from what was probably a slightly less than average public high school.  I had no problems transitioning to and graduating from college.  He ended up needing an extra year due to having to take some classes twice and his GPA wasn't in the same ballpark at the end.  (He's done very well afterward though, but we both wonder if he'd even get a chance to start with his GPA in today's tougher job world.)

 

Foundation counts.  A lot.

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True.  This can easily be a consideration many of the rest of us don't have to worry about since we're not aiming toward UCs or having to fulfill a-g requirements.  

 

 

My older two (the two who homeschooled high school) did AP level work.  I just didn't care to jump through the hoops to have the courses labeled that way and since we didn't want college credit for many of them, there was no reason to take the tests.  If middle son hadn't done AP level work, it would have been extremely tough for him to have remained competitive at his college because essentially everyone coming in has had that level for high school.  Kids coming from our "average" public high school often have trouble keeping up in selective colleges due to a not-so-good foundation in their high school classes.  Youngest son (my ps kid) found this out at his college too.  His work level/commitment had to step up a notch.  My homeschooled lads found the transition to college seamless.

 

Foundation counts.  Labels do not (except for enough to prove the foundation is there to an outsider looking in).

 

This is nothing new.  Hubby and I went to the same university back in the 80s.  I came from a terrific public high school (with one year at a terrific private high school).  He came from what was probably a slightly less than average public high school.  I had no problems transitioning to and graduating from college.  He ended up needing an extra year due to having to take some classes twice and his GPA wasn't in the same ballpark at the end.  (He's done very well afterward though, but we both wonder if he'd even get a chance to start with his GPA in today's tougher job world.)

 

Foundation counts.  A lot.

 

Foundation definitely counts.  My sons passed the APUSH test, not because I taught a great AP class (I had great plans, but rocky execution), but because we'd done so much history over the years and talked so much about the effects of history on world affairs.  Great ground work was laid in the 8-9th grade work they did with a two year study of US history, complete with lots of field trips and some primary documents work.  We joke that you can't really get through a family dinner without at least one book being pulled out as a reference.

 

Yes there were hoops to jump through to arrange the tests.  I will be forever grateful to the schools who welcomed my kids, including one incredible private school here.  My kids work better with a stick and a carrot, so the test looming did have a pedagogical purpose for them in some cases.  We didn't know where they would apply or attend, so we didn't have certainty about what AP credit policy would apply.  DS2, who is going to Stanford will receive no credit for AP or DE.  Had he gone to Notre Dame, he would have gotten 17 credits.  Had he gone to George Washington, he would have gotten 24.  DS1, who is at Virginia Tech didn't have any credits applicable towards his major requirements, but applied AP credit to many of his university graduation requirements (CLE credits at VT).  That makes some room in what is a pretty packed schedule.  

 

I do agree that the AP label isn't what brings knowledge or understanding.  My high schools offered one AP course between the two of them.  However, I'd stack their English and history courses against anything with the College Board blessing.  

 

I also should confess that there was a little bit of professional ego involved.  I have an MS Ed, but didn't do classroom teaching.  I don't get a lot of positive strokes as a homeschool mom, but knowing that my syllabus was CB approved and seeing test results that reflect a lot of time spent by me and my kids (even doing half my plans is a fair bit of work) is one of the positive affirmations I do get.  Sort of like spending a lot of time training and then hitting a PR on a race.

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I also should confess that there was a little bit of professional ego involved.  I have an MS Ed, but didn't do classroom teaching.  I don't get a lot of positive strokes as a homeschool mom, but knowing that my syllabus was CB approved and seeing test results that reflect a lot of time spent by me and my kids (even doing half my plans is a fair bit of work) is one of the positive affirmations I do get.  Sort of like spending a lot of time training and then hitting a PR on a race.

 

And this is also where we differ.  The more I work(ed) in a public school the more I want(ed) learning just for the sheer joy of learning, not to check any boxes.  I see way too many kids learning just because "it's on the test" that I always strive to do so much more, both in ps and out.  I see kids in ps come to me saying "We can't do well on this because we didn't study!  We did that last chapter!"  My response/goal/whatever is telling them, "No, life isn't that way.  Once you truly learn something, you know it for longer than a day/week.  You might get rusty after a couple of years without using it, but even then, it comes back quickly if it were truly learned.  Anything else and you just memorized the material.  You didn't learn it.  For most things I should be able to pull out a test five years from now and you'd still be able to pass easily."

 

I became really against teaching for a test alone, esp not wanting to learn anything that wasn't on the test. 

 

ps  I know many of us on here share that sentiment.  It's only in the way we respond to it that differs.  "Go for it! (testing) or Shy away from it except for what is necessary."  One of the big attractions for middle son (and us parents) at U Rochester was their free tuition for a 5th year for a student to learn something completely outside of their major(s) - just for the sheer joy of learning about it.  I don't know of any other school that offers that opportunity.  (It's not open to all - only to those who get their studies approved - but several do it each year, including middle son.  He really enjoyed focusing on Africa for his "extra" year.)

Edited by creekland
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If he could do good on an SAT II for literature it seems he should just do the prep for the literature CLEP?

We actually did many Clep exams including the literature with both dc's. They are very similar to the subject exams. Remember College Board creates both exams. ;) Dd did the SAT II for lit first and her scores were very similar because the Clep exams are on an 80 point scale with a 50 being a pass so fairly easy to compare. The main difference is the SAT is more focused on individual passages and the Clep exam has a few specific questions about famous pieces of literature. Ds only did the Clep and used SAT review guides as part of his prep since we head them.

 

FYI the similar scale\scores pretty much held true for all the duplicate subject and Clep exams.

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Creekland, I have no idea why or even if most homeschoolers teach to the test or care about testing. We never did tests in our homeschooling journey until we started focusing on college not chapter tests or even math tests. I saw they knew something and moved on or tackled the same info a different way if they weren't getting it, in subjects like math. Honestly though we have ZERO options in our state (Alaska) so everything is going to be $$$$$$$$$ which is something my son has little of. Also undergraduate nuclear engineering degrees are at a smaller number of schools than your average degree so between that and money his options seem to be narrowing fast. I'm concerned not about testing in itself except in regards to it not limiting his options. Money will do a good job of that anyway.

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Creekland, I have no idea why or even if most homeschoolers teach to the test or care about testing. We never did tests in our homeschooling journey until we started focusing on college not chapter tests or even math tests. I saw they knew something and moved on or tackled the same info a different way if they weren't getting it, in subjects like math. Honestly though we have ZERO options in our state (Alaska) so everything is going to be $$$$$$$$$ which is something my son has little of. Also undergraduate nuclear engineering degrees are at a smaller number of schools than your average degree so between that and money his options seem to be narrowing fast. I'm concerned not about testing in itself except in regards to it not limiting his options. Money will do a good job of that anyway.

 

Nuclear Engineering is probably worthy of a separate thread.  I wonder how many people in the industry start out in the Navy Nuclear Power program.  That would pull a lot of people in with varied engineering and science backgrounds, not only those with nuclear engineering degrees.  

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This is a new thought to me. Since he isn't aiming for an Ivy this wouldn't apply though correct? The extra SAT II's are just to show his competency for an engineering department was what I was getting from the extra links. Especially since he was thinking of taking CLEP tests to get out of classes that weren't part of his major (history, government, economics) and hoping to dual enroll for calculus and maybe technical writing. These should show competency and perhaps get him credit at the tier of school he is looking at. Money is definitly an issue after all. I think the DE should show math and physics competency also though which is why I wasn't sure about the necessity of extra tests. If he could do good on an SAT II for literature it seems he should just do the prep for the literature CLEP?

 

I'm jumping in late to the conversation and am undecided on the value of the subject tests, but I just wanted to mention to carefully check each school's policy on accepting credit for CLEP and dual enrollment. RPI does not accept CLEP and college courses are not counted if they were used in obtaining a high school diploma. I don't think too many schools are like that, but it's something to consider.

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I'm jumping in late to the conversation and am undecided on the value of the subject tests, but I just wanted to mention to carefully check each school's policy on accepting credit for CLEP and dual enrollment. RPI does not accept CLEP and college courses are not counted if they were used in obtaining a high school diploma. I don't think too many schools are like that, but it's something to consider.

 

 

Thanks Mrs. W. I appreciate the heads up. I know RPI won't accept but it is more of a reach school because of money more than anything. All the others are State universities and tech schools that accept most CLEP tests. 

 

 

Sebastian, I was simply explaining why I worried about tests at all as I also think they really don't tell you much but I do worry about them (a little). 

Edited by frogger
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